CHICAGO (STMW) - Paramedics have seen a spike in drug overdoses on the West Side since Wednesday night and have since armed themselves with more antidote, fire officials said.
At least 74 people have overdosed on what appears to be heroin laced with opiates throughout the last 72 hours, Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said Friday evening.
Langford said the overdose numbers are citywide, but the fire department has seen a concentration on the West Side.
"At this time last year we had less than half that number of overdoses," he said. "But it's not such an increase that this is stressing us at all, we haven't had to put any extra ambulances out or any extra crews, we're just make sure Narcan is available."
Fire officials have equipped paramedics and first responders with larger quantities of Narcan, a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose, Langford said, adding that he couldn't say how many, if any, of the overdoses were fatal.
"We don't know whether we're on the front end of this, the back end, whether it's over or what," Langford said.
Chicago Police are investigating whether the Thursday night death of 49-year-old man in the East Garfield Park neighborhood was drug-related.
The man was found about 7:10 p.m. in a third floor apartment in the 3300 block of West Ohio Street, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene and Area North detectives are conducting a death investigation, police said. No foul play is suspected and the death is likely narcotics-related, police said. The Cook County medical examiner's office could not immediately confirm the fatality.
"The Chicago Police Department is aware of multiple heroin overdoses occurring on the West Side," said police News Affairs Officer Thomas Sweeney. "The CPD Narcotics unity and the DEA are investigating to identify the source of the heroin."
The Chicago Recovery Alliance provides free heroin overdose kits to users and their families, as well as safer injection resources and drug addiction counseling. You can contact them at (773) 471-0999 or ONLINE HERE